The subject of vaccinations is a hot potato. The official line is that all children must have all of them to wipe out measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio, meningitis, tetanus and even flu – or at least reduce their spread considerably. It sounds like a laudable aim but is it really achievable and at what cost? As with so many of these issues it’s a question of benefit versus harm issue– and big pharma don’t have a good track record of putting safety before profits, given that it is highly profitable for the pharmaceutical giants who supply the vaccines to the health service. Unlike drugs, the marketing of vaccines is direct to the health policy makers. If they force vaccination marketing to the public is of little relevance, except to keep the lid on rumours of downsides.
In no area of medicine is denial of adverse effects more apparent. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) is apparently completely safe despite thousands and thousands of parents who have no doubt their child’s autistic symptoms, asthma or rheumatoid arthritis started right after the vaccine. Medical journals and the press are strongly encouraged not to publish stories of vaccine damage because discouraging vaccination, they are told, will damage or kill thousands of children. Dr Andrew Wakefield, who first identified gut problems following MMR in children whose parents were convinced that the vaccine had triggered autistic-like symptoms in their children, was struck off the medical register, creating the false impression that his actual research was wrong – and that this single set of case reports is the only evidence in existence than MMR vaccinations can cause harm. Parents are cajoled into vaccinating their child, starting at the age of 2 months with the 5-in-1 Pediacel. If they don’t conform they are show horrific pictures of what could happen to their child if they don’t.
In the US children can’t go to school unless vaccinated and, in the UK, schoolchildren are now all meant to be having a flu vaccination and girls a cervical cancer vaccination. The numbers of vaccines just goes up and up. Today, in the UK children may receive as many as 37 doses of 14 vaccines by the age of two, and as many as eight vaccines in a single visit.
The United States recommends more vaccines than any country in world. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) recommends 48 doses of 14 vaccines by age six, and 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18. The CDC also recommends an annual flu shot for all Americans from six months of age onwards.
Of course, this is a great money spinner for the big drug companies who make the vaccine but is it really necessary and, if so, what are the downsides? The market for pediatric vaccines across the EU, US and Japan was projected to be worth £16 billion by 2016. It already exceeds $20 billion. That buys a lot of influence. To put this in context, in the first quarter of 2010 alone, the US federal government representatives received $19 million per day from lobbyists, and over $1 billion in total lobbyist spending, a large chunk of the money coming from the health care sector.
Despite all this pressure many parents are opting out of vaccinations such as the MMR despite growing pressure to conform. Why?
I think the reason for the polarisation on the subject of vaccines is there are those that have adopted an ‘innocent unless proven guilty’ approach and will have what’s given, and those that consider vaccines ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and will have a vaccine only if it’s proven safe and necessary.
While it is fair to say there are no properly controlled trials that conclusively prove that the MMR cause autism it is also fair to say that there are no controlled trials that prove that the MMR vaccine, and others, are safe, and doesn’t increase the risk of autism, asthma or other immunological and inflammatory disorders. The vaccine was introduced into the UK in 1988 without adequate safety testing. Not one of the safety trials on the MMR ‘actively’ followed up the vaccinated children for more than six weeks, and most no longer than three weeks. The trials would not have been able to detect either rare, or long-term, side effects of the vaccine, such as autism and bowel disease. Many so-called ‘placebo’ trials with vaccines the placebos have contained other vaccine ingredients such as mercury containing Thimerosol or aluminium rather than inert placebos such as a saline solution, thus potentially disguising side-effects. Proper studies can be done if the funding and political will is there.
Even surveys of associations between incidence of disease in vaccinated and unvaccinated children are unreliable in a culture where most reports from parents of alleged diseases developing after the vaccine are ignored. Putting this bias aside large population studies suggest that the MMR is not causing the large majority of autism, but have been unable to exclude the possibility that it is causing autism in a small number of susceptible children. This means that the vaccine could be causing autism or neurological damage in up to 10% of autistic children in the UK – between 300 and 400 children a year. The vaccine strain measles virus has been found in the guts – and brains – of some autistic children as Dr Wakefield and colleagues first proposed.
Risk versus benefit
This is no different to how one might assess whether or not to take drug, except there’s one more argument – and that is ‘herd’ immunity. We are told that if everyone has the vaccine the disease will be eradicated for all and if enough people renege refuse others with suffer as the disease isn’t eradicated. It’s a powerful social argument (assuming mass vaccination really does achieve this laudable goal). Of course, no-one wants an epidemic of measles, mumps or rubella, or any other infectious disease for that matter. But if one in ten thousand children are irreversibly damaged, by a vaccination, or one in a thousand, or one in a hundred – where do you draw the line? How do you mitigate that risk and how do you compensate those who are damaged? Total denial of risk, which is the current state of affairs, isn’t dealing with the issue.
Just as for drugs you can theoretically assess the ‘numbers needed to treat’ for harm or benefit. If your odds of you or your child getting the disease are one in 10,000, and the vaccine is 50 per cent effective (people often assume vaccines are 100% effective – they are not) then you’ve got a 1 in 20,000 chance of benefitting. But what are the numbers needed to treat for harm? For example, one in 30-50,000 children given the DPT vaccine have permanent neurological damage, even death, according to a UK government funded study. A child’s risk of developing asthma with full immunisation or after the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine (that’s the ‘P’ in DPT) goes up by at least 50%, according to two studies. However, even these published studies are flatly denied. GPs say they are safe, but refuse to believe parents who report adverse effects. Looked at in this way the risk versus benefit of many vaccines are quite dubious because the evidence of safety is lacking.
Is the MMR vaccine really necessary at all?
A classic example is the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is the only vaccination containing multiple live vaccines which makes it potentially more problematic. First of all let’s put the risk in context.
Measles is generally a mild infection lasting up to a week. When I was growing up we were encouraged to get measles, suffered for a few days, then had natural immunity. It is certainly not a life-threatening disease. There’s about a death every five years in the UK from measles, or the complications of it, in severely immune-compromised children or adults. The last death recorded in a child since 1992 was in 2008 in a child with congenital immunodeficiency. In 2006 a 13-year old boy with an underlying lung condition, who was taking immunosuppressive drugs, also died from the complications of measles . With 62 million people in the UK we are looking at very small odds.
Mumps is not a problem for girls and carries an unproven and likely to be miniscule risk of infertility or reduced fertility in boys infected in teenage years. To put this in context, in 2011 there were 1580 cases of mumps in the UK. Let’s assume half were adults (790) and 500 were in males (mumps tends to affect more boys than girls). Of those 500 about 100 men (20%) would be likely to develop mumps orchitis, which is certainly unpleasant and, of those, of which 50 (50%) will have testicular atrophy. Ten of these (20%) would be likely to get it in both testicles, and one (10%) of these will have reduced fertility. I have been unable to find a single case of actual infertility induced by mumps. Even so, if you want to further reduce the risk there is a case for given boys, before puberty, a mumps vaccination.
Rubella is a mild disease, except during early pregnancy when it can cause congenital deformities in the baby. It used to be given at age 12 for this reason. Follow-up studies in Finland, where a two-stage MMR programme, giving it at age age 1 and 3 is in operation, have found that approximately one third of girls immunised as young children and now aged around 17 have low levels of rubella antibodies, with the possibility of rubella infections re-emerging during pregnancy. As this vaccine is available separately, it would seem preferable for teenage girls, rather than babies, to be vaccinated after an An antibody is a protein produced by the body’s immune system when it detects a harmful substance known as an antigen. Examples of antigens include… test to ensure they are not already immune.
Logically, it would be better to wait until a child is older, test them to check if they’ve got natural immunity and, if not, give the single vaccine – mumps for boys, rubella for girls.
There is no good case to give a triple live vaccine to a two month old baby, whose immune system is immature, as is the practice in the UK. Other countries delay vaccination until a child is older.
MMR – are the risks are real?
So, what’s all the fuss about the MMR and why did Dr Andrew Wakefield and Professor John Walker-Smith get struck off the medical register? There’s a bit of history you need to know to understand what this fiasco was all about.
Back in the 1990’s there were over a thousand parents claiming their children were vaccine-damaged who had sought legal aid for compensation. A class action was about to begin, with Dr Andrew Wakefield and Professor John Walker-Smith due to appear as expert witnesses. Then ‘legal aid’ from the Legal Services Commission was withdrawn from the claimants, leaving them without any financial support to take on the pharmaceutical giants. (The same thing happened again more recently, just before a class action the makers of Epilim, an epilepsy drug that is alleged to have damaged children in parents taking the drug when pregnant.) The decision to withdraw legal aid was taken by Mr Justice Davis who, according to Private Eye “has been cleared of any wrongdoing for not disclosing that his brother was a director of Glaxo SmithKline when he sanctioned the withdrawal of legal aid from families who claim their children were damaged by the drug company’s MMR vaccine.”
With the parents case collapsed, the General Medical Council (GMC) began proceedings against Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith for carrying out unethical research on autistic children. In fact the doctors had been carrying out diagnostic tests to find the cause of serious gastrointestinal complication that had suddenly developed in these children. No parents had complained to the GMC about the doctors and were, in fact, delighted someone was taking their children’s problems seriously. The regulatory hearing that was to last three years, hinged around a paper, published in the Lancet in 1998, authored by twelve doctors, which reviewed the cases of the first twelve children to present at the Royal Free Hospital in north London. The paper came to no diagnostic conclusions about the children but did report the parents’ view that their children’s illnesses followed their MMR vaccination and that a number of the sick children developed regressive autism. At the end of the hearing, the three defendants were found guilty and Dr Wakefield was struck off the Medical Register. On appeal to the High Court, Professor Walker-Smith, now retired, was cleared of all the charges, the appeal court judge making it clear that the judging panel had come to completely the wrong conclusions after three years of evidence. Dr Wakefield was not allowed an appeal and consequently the most informed expert witness for many of the parent claimants appeared to have been completely discredited.
Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith were concerned only with those cases in their paper which, as a result of vaccination, developed gastrointestinal problems. However, a high percentage of the thousand strong parents claimed their children had suffered a wide range of adverse reactions to MMR. These children’s cases were not even reviewed by the lawyers or the courts and remain, to this day, effectively ignored. Most people think that the three doctors concerned in this case did something terribly wrong and that, somehow, the GMC ruling meant that the MMR vaccine is safe. Mission accomplished.
The fact remains that some children do develop asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and autism-like disorders following the MMR, although this is still flatly denied. In a recent case in Italy the court ruled that the MMR did cause autism in a nine-year old boy and awarded £140,000 of damages. In another case in the US the parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were awarded a lump sum of more than $810,000 (plus an estimated $30-40,000 per year for autism services and care) in compensation by the Court, which ruled that the MMR vaccine had caused acute brain damage that led to his autism spectrum disorder. The following year the federal government agreed to award damages to the family of Hannah Poling, a girl who developed autistic-like symptoms after receiving a series of vaccines in a single day.
To make this real the young child of a GP in my street has been in and out of hospital with acute asthma-like attacks following his MMR vaccination. A cousin’s daughter developed rheumatoid arthritis following her MMR. I have met many parents of children with special educational needs who swear their child’s problems started, or got considerably worse, after the MMR vaccine. This is not at all uncommon. In one survey of 825 parents whose children had symptoms that would unquestionably classify them as autistic, 55 reported clear signs of regression following the MMR vaccine. That’s one in fifteen. The number of children with autism, which now effects one in 65, has risen continuously since the 1970’s, coinciding with the introduction of the MMR vaccine, as has the incidence of asthma. Of course, association doesn’t prove cause, but I’ve not seen any convincing evidence that rules out vaccines as a contributory factor. Nowadays, MMR is such a hot potato that it is almost impossible to do objective research, or get it published.
Beware multiple vaccines
There is one argument for giving multiple vaccines – it is more convenient and hence means better compliance. (I’ve often wondered if, when patents run out on single vaccines, creating a new combo might provide a means for obtaining a new patent, improving the potential for financial return.) But there are plenty of arguments against it. Firstly, it creates a completely artificial situation. At no point in our evolutionary history would we become exposed to multiple infections, all at the same time. It’s a hell of an onslaught to give a baby’s immune system a cocktail of infections in one go, especially if a child already has compromised immunity. Also, to stimulate their immune system to react against the infectious agent ‘adjuvants’ are added into the mix. Many vaccines used to include toxic mercury (contained in Thimerosol, still used in vaccinations sold to third-world countries), but now use aluminium instead.
But what about the risks? One of the strange things about the denial of potential vaccine damage is that many strains of vaccines have been withdrawn precisely because of that risk. For example, SmithKlineBeecham’s MMR vaccine, Pluserix, containing the Urabe strain of the mumps vaccine, had to be withdrawn in the 1990’s, having caused serious adverse reactions in thousands of children, some reported to be due to developing vaccine-induced meningitis and brain damage as a result.
The pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in DPT has a bad track record in relation to inducing brain damage as well as asthma. It has since been replaced by the 5-in-1 Pediacel vaccination.
The current 5-in-1 Pediacel vaccination combines:
Polio which is non-existent in the UK since 1998 and therefore unnecessary), Diphtheria which is extremely rare in countries with closed sewage systems – there has been one death in a child in the past 18 years.
Tetanus which is of minimal threat to a young baby if you take care not to expose their open wounds to earth or manure, and they aren’t at risk from animal bites. There are about ten cases a year in the UK, often in alcoholics or injectable drug users.
Whooping cough (pertussis)
Meningitis (the Hib vaccine)
There is a case for vaccinating against these last two, both of which can be deadly in young infants. There were five deaths from whooping cough in infants in 2012. The earlier you do it the less the risk of infection, and the later you do it the less the risk of side-effects. That’s the issue. There’s a good case for waiting until a child is six months old.
Perhaps this 5-in-1 Pediacel is safer. The trouble is that’s it’s hard to tell without a forum for allowing reporting of adverse effects to be collected. Robust studies haven’t been done, and any reported side-effects are often ignored. According to an article in the Sunday Express in 2006 “Babies given the new five-in-one jab face a risk of convulsions, brain damage or even death. Results of medical trials by the firm which makes the vaccine have revealed that the “superdose” vaccination can have serious side-effects.
Evidence from the vaccine’s manufacturers, Sanofi Pasteur, shows that in clinical trials 64 per cent of 451 babies given the Pediacel jab experienced bad reactions. Ten per cent of these were “moderate to severe”. These included convulsions, loss of consciousness and high-pitched or persistent inconsolable crying. Other studies showed that components of the vaccine can cause breathing difficulties, blue discolouration of the skin due to lack of oxygen, swelling of the brain, low blood pressure and extreme allergic shock.
Professor Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, criticised the Government saying: “I am very concerned that these apparently wide spread side-effects have not been disclosed. The Government should investigate these concerns urgently”.
Dr Richard Halvorsen, a London GP who specialises in innoculations said: “I’m concerned that this five-in-one is overloading a child’s immune system. “The risks of vaccinations have been played down by the Government and parents have been fobbed off with bland reassurances”. And Dr Peter Mansfield, who won a case against the doctor’s governing body, the General Medical Council, for refusing to give the combined controversial measles, mumps and rubella to infants, said: “This is scandalous. We’re vaccinating babies when their immune systems are not ready”.”
If a child’s immune system is sent into a frenzy of over-reactivity there’s a chance it will trigger inflammatory, allergic and auto-immune diseases. This is probably why a child’s risk of developing allergies or asthma doubles after, for example, the DPT vaccine. If so, this is an argument against giving lots of vaccines at once, for example, not giving Pediacel (5 in 1), Men C and pneumococcal vaccines all in the same day. While this is standard practice the vaccine maker’s guidelines states: ‘There are currently no data on the concomitant use of PEDIACEL and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.’ That means today’s children are the testing the combination, but no-one is collecting the evidence without bias.
It’s also an argument for being careful about who you give vaccines to and what you are exposed to in the days after a vaccination. For example, if a child already has allergies, asthma, autism or other auto-immune or atopic conditions or symptoms, they may be more at risk of a reaction. But this kind of screening just isn’t happening largely because of the blanket denial that there are any dangers of vaccination. Although there is no hard evidence for this, given that wheat and milk are the most common food allergens I would avoid these foods for a few days after a vaccination.
Giving vitamin A and What it does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against…, by the way, supports their immune system win the battle faster with less suffering.
If your child hasn’t had measles or mumps, and you know someone who does, an alternative to vaccination is to expose your child to the infection. Natural immunity is much more effective than vaccinated immunity. I’ve never heard anyone argue to the contrary.
When you are a parent, or grand-parent in my case, these are the kind of things you want to think about. (If you are at that point you might want to read Dr Halvorsen’s book The Truth About Vaccines, and the chapter in either of my books Boost Your Immune System or Optimum Nutrition Before, During and After Pregnancy, which discuss the individual diseases and vaccines in some detail, enabling you to make a more informed decision. I also have a Special Report, and an interview with Dr Halvorsen on my website.
The trouble is the single vaccines are getting harder and harder to get. Dr Halvorsen’s Baby Jab Clinic (www.babyjabs.co.uk) offers single vaccines and advises parents on what their children really need.
Flu jabs for school-children? Think twice.
Leaving swine and Asian flu aside, which I cover in the next chapter, each year a flu vaccine is concocted, based on the predicted strains likely to be prevalent in the winter to come. These are live vaccines and, in the version planned for school-children, is likely to be delivered intra-nasally. The effectiveness of the vaccine depends on guessing the right strains one is likely to be exposed to. But what about the safety? The more live vaccines that are combined the greater is the likelihood of a reaction. But no-one really knows because a) the studies aren’t done and b) when side-effects after the vaccine are reported they are denied. In Australia, By June (their winter) of 2010, more than 1,000 adverse reactions in children under the age of 5 resulted in the Australian government’s banning of flu vaccines for that age group. High fevers, vomiting and convulsions were the most widely reported reactions, which are also associated with long-term adverse health outcomes. The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that Australian “public health experts have called for an independent body to monitor drug safety after it emerged that young children were more likely to end up in hospitals because of side effects from a flu vaccine than they were from the disease itself. The analysis contradicts government safety advice that the harm did not outweigh the risk and raises concerns about the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s assessment of the vaccine.” Why take this risk for something that is not life-threatening?
Flu jabs for the frail elderly. The evidence is frail.
For frail elderly people a bad case of flu can be fatal. So the potential benefit versus risk equation is more favourable. However, a number of studies have found that flu vaccines don’t save lives and some strains of flu vaccines have had to be withdrawn due to serious and life-threatening adverse reactions. I certainly know of one older man who ended up in intensive care after his flu shot. There’s lies the rub. The more immune-compromised a person the more likely they are to react to a live vaccine and the more likely they are to be ‘at risk’ from flu, especially if elderly. If you are contemplating having a flu vaccine ask for the name, the evidence of effectiveness and of safety. Then look it up on the web. I’d also ask your doctor or nurse to sign the Vaccine Consent Form, which is downloadable.
But don’t forget there is a terribly simple alternative, and certainly the one I’d recommend my grandchildren. That is to take high dose vitamin C, a gram an hour for adults. It’s non-toxic and highly effective. For example, when researchers tested the effects of a combination of nutrients including high dose vitamin C, on cells infected with bird flu, in many respects similar to swine flu, the nutrient mixture “demonstrated high antiviral activity evident even at prolonged periods after infection. Antiviral properties were comparable to those of conventional drugs (amantadine and oseltamivir); however, the nutrient mixture had the advantage of affecting viral replication at the late stages of the infection process.”
Vitamin C, both in cells and in real-life if you get the dose high enough, does the job better. Why bother with a vaccine? The anti-viral power of vitamin C has been proven over and over again, provided the dose is high enough. It is most effective against viruses (including measles, mumps and rubella) but also against bacteria (diphtheria, whooping cough and pheumococcus), although not as effective as antiobitics. There’s a whole book specifically on this subject called ‘Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases and Toxins: Curing the Incurable’ by Dr Thomas Levy. He is one of the world’s experts in effects of vitamin C on viruses so I decided to interview him. While he did not have experience of treating anyone with swine flu at that time he told me “I have not found any flu virus for which vitamin C does not exert a virucidal effect, as long as enough vitamin C reaches the virus, such as in any acute infection. Vitamin C is virtually devoid of negative side effects.”
High dose vitamin C has no adverse effects, except for transient lose bowels, which stops when you lower the dose. Some might say there aren’t enough controlled trials, but there are some and all the high dose studies show great benefit.
Compared to the trials on vaccines or drugs, and the dubious safety and known side-effects, a vitamin C and nutrient strategy wins hands down. For example, in a study of students those given 1 gram of vitamin C every hour for six hours during the first day of a cold, reported 85 per cent less cold symptoms than those taking decongestants and pain killers.
Cervical cancer – is the vaccine advisable?
Two in every 100 cancers diagnosed in women are for cervical cancer, which if picked up early with a pap smear test, is very treatable. It is caused by a strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The greatest risk comes from unprotected sex from multiple partners. If you are not promiscuous the odds are much smaller.
A vaccine to protect against the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer has been developed, although it isn’t a complete protection against all strains. Currently, all girls aged 12 to 18 across the UK are being offered it and, in some schools, without requiring parental approval – which some parents fear will give a green light to teenage sex. The government awarded GSK, the vaccine makers, a £200 million contract and appointed a GSK executive to the board of the government’s official education watchdog agency, known as Ofsted. Politics aside, is the vaccine safe?
Concerns were raised about the vaccine when a 14-year-old schoolgirl, collapsed and died within hours of receiving the Cervarix vaccine. However, it has since been reported that she died from an underlying cancer, rather than from a reaction to the vaccine. Another became paralysed following the vaccine. In the US several deaths and serious disabilities have been associated with the Gardasil HPV vaccine. It is not known if the vaccine caused these problems. Adverse effects are quite common, with over 5,000 reported after about 1 million vaccinations. (In truth, the rate of reaction is likely to be higher due to the general denial of vaccine-related reactions.) So the odds of a reaction are 1 in 200. Cervical cancer claims almost a thousand lives a year and, if the vaccine is 20% effective, as some experts claim, mass vaccination is likely to produce many adverse reactions, some very serious. Although some researchers report that this vaccine is well tolerated and ‘true’ adverse events are uncommon, the subject of whether or not young girls should have this vaccination is (and no doubt will continue to be) hugely controversial.
Do children really need 50 vaccinations?
If you follow the National Health Service’s vaccination checklist your child will receive six vaccines at 2 months, six at 3 months, seven at 4 months, seven at 1 year, seven at year 3, two at 12 (girls only), three at age 13 to 18, in addition to annual flu shots, being recommended from age 5. That’s a total of at least 50 by the time they reach 18. What is the effect of having all these vaccinations? In truth, no-one knows. It is a social experiment. The question is do you want your child to be part of it.
What else is in vaccines?
The other problem with having lots of vaccines is the other stuff in them. Before 2004 most vaccines contained a germicidal compound called Thimerosal, which consisted – in part – of mercury. Many vaccines also contain formalin, a 37 per cent solution of formaldehyde, the main ingredient of embalming fluid. Some also contain phenol or ethylene glycol, the main component found in antifreeze. While all of these ingredients are disturbing, Thimerosal is particularly concerning, not only because mercury is a highly toxic element, but due to the fact that many babies and children are allergic to this compound. Thankfully, most vaccines these days are being produced without Thimerosal but only because people like you and me, backed up by good science, are willing to stick their neck out and make a noise. Outrageously, Thimerisal is still used in a number of vaccines sold to third world countries.
But another toxic metal, aluminium, is still added into most vaccines available on the NHS. And worryingly, the addition of more vaccines to the immune schedule means that the quantity of aluminium given to babies is increasing. Aluminium is added as an ‘adjuvant’ to aggravate the immune system into reacting against the infectious agent in the vaccine to stimulate immunity. Ingested aluminium is excreted from the gut. Injected aluminium is meant to stay in the system to enable the vaccine to work. But no trials have been published to show how it works, or that it is safe to inject into humans. Animals injected with an equivalent to human vaccine dose of aluminium have clear degeneration and death of brain cells, according to a study in 2009. This study provides a plausible mechanism for brain damage, which could lead to the development of autistic symptoms.
Potential harm can be reduced by minimising the aluminium load wherever possible. Request vaccines which contain the least aluminium. Also, reduce the amount your baby is exposed to at any one time by spreading out vaccinations. Encouragingly, none of the single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, the combination MMR or the Hib/Men C booster contain aluminium.
Nutritional immune support
Whatever you choose to do ensure that you and your baby has a fit immune system to start with before accepting a vaccine. If they have an on-going allergy, perhaps maninfesting as digestive problems, a cold or other infection or any inflammatory or auto-immune condition or history of convulsions, epilepsy or neurological disorder be extremely cautious. If there is a history of such problems in the parent be extremely vigilant. For the first six months to a year, there is no better way to confer immunity than through breast-feeding. Once weaned, you can help to ensure immunity by providing an optimal intake of immune-boosting nutrients.
For example, vitamin A offers protection against any virus, including measles and probably polio. In underdeveloped countries, deaths from measles have been virtually eliminated with adequate amounts of vitamin A.
Ensuring an optimum intake of nutrients can actually help to reduce risk of disease. For example, studies indicate that children infected with measles have lower levels of vitamin A. Consequently, eating a diet high in vitamin A, rich in fish, and its precursor beta-carotene, rich in green leafy vegetables and yellow-orange coloured fruit and vegetables, may reduce the risk of your child developing measles or its complications. I also recommend supplementing a daily chewable multivitamin and mineral, plus essential fats.
There is also logic, although no hard proof, in avoiding the most common allergens, wheat and dairy products, for a few days after a vaccination (especially MMR), as the immune system becomes activated.
Another way to minimise risk in babies, whose immune systems are particularly immature, is to restrict their exposure to large numbers of other potentially-infected infants in the first six months. If possible, I recommend that you avoid placing your child in day care with many other children or involving them in large playgroups, especially in the first couple of years, until their immune systems are much stronger.
If you do choose to give your baby a vaccination, ask your doctor for (a) a list of ingredients in the vaccine, (b) evidence that it works, and (c) a list of adverse effects and (d) have them sign the Vaccination Consent Form. You should also be wary of continuing with vaccinations if your baby has had a bad reaction to a previous vaccine, is currently sick, or if there is any family history of epilepsy, convulsions, neurological disorders, severe allergies, or immune system disorders.
Finally and most importantly, use your common sense. The truth, no-one has all the answers and don’t know the long-term consequences of mass immunisation. In the meantime, gather all the information you can, then let the facts rather than a fixed opinion or societal pressure guide your decision.
WATCH THIS FILM: Please watch, and encourage other people, especially potential mothers, to watch the excellent award-winning documentary The Greater Good. It puts the issues relating to vaccination into clear perspective.